The Factors Motivating Students’ STEM Career Aspirations: Personal and Societal Contexts

Yujin Lee, Mary Margaret Capraro, Radhika Viruru

Abstract


Students’ STEM career aspirations have received increasing attention worldwide. To understand students’ perspectives toward science in terms of their STEM career aspirations, researchers in the present study analysed the data collected from participants’ Qualtrics survey responses. The participants in this study were 9th to 12th grade students (n=44) who voluntarily participated in a one-week STEM camp for which they were offered admission as a result of winning the state science and engineering fair in Texas. The collected data were analysed using thematic analysis along with supplementary analysis of frequency distributions to determine how these motivated students’ perspectives toward science influenced their decisions to pursue or avoid STEM-related careers. Results revealed that 79.4% of these students were interested in pursuing STEM careers. Of those who selected STEM careers for their future employment, the perspectives they held regarding science that motivated their STEM career aspirations were mainly divided into two contexts – personal and societal. Students who possessed a personal context fell into one of three themes: positive emotion, personal development, and developing tools for the job. Students whose perspectives best reflected a societal context were also divided into three themes: helping people, interacting with others, and impacting the world

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